Category: Press

5th Annual Fashion for a Passion Line-up Announced

FFAP_logoDALLAS, TX – Against The Grain Productions recently selected eight emerging designers to join their elite roster of Presenting Designers at their upcoming and wildly popular charity event, Fashion for a Passion.  Now in its fifth year, the evening that brings together a bevy of Asian American artists has become known not only as as a celebration of up and coming talent, but also a springboard for careers.  Past FFAP alum include Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh, who started with the event four years ago and has since gone onto be featured in Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang who recently won the title of Texas Next Top Designer, and Project Runway Season 2 winner Chloe Dao.

Fashion for a Passion will take place on Saturday, October 12th at the Dallas Contemporary, located at 161 Glass Street in the Dallas Design District. This year’s roster includes an eclectic and diverse group that is sure to entertain and inspire. Said Tammy Nguyen Lee, ATG President/Founder, “Each year, Fashion for a Passion is painstakingly planned down to the finest details in an effort to create a quality platform that promotes a new generation of young and exciting Asian American artists and to bring the community together. This year promises to deliver yet another memorable evening. We can’t wait to share this talent with the audience and raise money and awareness for ATG’s orphanages, scholarship funds and outreach programs.”

Introducing the 2013 FFAP Presenting Designers:


2013 marks Cykochik’s 10Year Anniversary! Cykochik Custom Handbags was first conceived in the small Southern Methodist University dorm room of Vietnamese American designer Nikki Duong Koenig in 2003. While living in Dallas and working on her BA in Advertising and Art at SMU, Nikki naturally combined her passion for art, fashion, and design to produce an innovative line of custom-made and eco-friendly vegan handbags featuring meticulous reverse appliqué designs proudly handmade in Dallas. Upon graduation in 2005, Nikki jetted off to New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). There, she honed her design and business skills in their CEO program on nights and weekends while working full time as an advertising art director at global advertising agencies.

In 2013, after a decade of growing her business part time, 30 year-old Nikki took the leap to pursue her passion full time. She’d successfully raised more than her $10,000 goal in 30 days to produce Cykochik’s Artist Series 3 :: 10 Year Anniversary Collection, on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. With the tremendous support from Cykochik’s fans, her friends and family, Nikki made the decision to leave the marketing world to grow her vision for Cykochik’s creative community of artists, artisans and art patrons worldwide in creating fun, custom, well-made, socially responsible and eco-friendly handbags and accessories.

Cykochik is a proud member of PETA Business Friends and supports the arts through the MAC – McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Art Love Magic, ArtCon, ATG Against The Grain Productions, and other local nonprofit organizations.

Design Inspiration: Much of  Nikki’s fun, unique, and vibrant aesthetic is drawn from her travels, experiences living in Vietnam, Dallas, and NYC and her love for art, photography and nature.

What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “It’s a state-of-mind, being able to trust/follow my instincts and not second-guessing myself despite external obstacles or influences.”

“It is an honor to be a returning presenting designer at FFAP, especially for the 5th Anniversary! In showing my 10 Year Anniversary Collection and sharing my story, I hope to inspire other artists/designers to also be bold and pursue their dreams, because it’s never too late. I also hope to raise more awareness for ATG’s cause and funding to help supported orphanages and future Asian American artists and leaders.”

ffap-pr-vera-wangVERA WANG | VIVIONA

Vera Wang is a self proclaimed geek.  Born and raised in China, she graduated with a degree in English Language and Literature. Vera has always been passionate about high technology and how technology can impact day-to-day lives.  So she didn’t hesitate to pick Computer Science as a major when she moved to the United Stated 13 years ago and went to UNT to pursue her Masters.

Vera is passionate about fashion.  She fell in love with it when she laid eyes on Vogue for the very first time when she was a kid.  In 2007, Vera got in touch with a jewelry designer who she helped private label a pair of earring designs. This eventually led to the launch of Viviona in 2007,  an elite private label service company.
Vera currently serves as the CEO of Viviona, providing A to Z services to individuals who want to launch their fashion or beauty line.  Viviona has always been enthusiastic about helping new uprising designers.  Her creativity and her passion for fashion combined with her geeky side lead to the site, a crowdfunding platform that Viviona sponsored aiming to help designers to collect funding through pre-launching some of their featured designs.

Viviona launched its own swimwear label in 2012.

Design inspiration: Classic yet bold, retro yet contemporary, simple yet sophisticated

What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Helping build better communities.”

“As a minority myself and Asian in whole as minorities, we need to work together to bring community awareness and voice together as a unity. I am very excited to be chosen as one of the presenters. Fashion for a Passion has becoming one of the few up-scale fashion shows in Dallas.”

ffap-pr-kim-phamKIM PHAM

Kim Pham, 21 years old, graduated from The University of North Texas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design, a minor in Business Administration in Marketing and Electronic Commerce. She continued to foster her creative passion throughout her academic years, while winning many national and international awards.

Design inspiration: Kim’s design philosophy is to empower women with confidence through enhancing their beautiful curves. Her designs blend together an eclectic style, a mixture of bold and elegance combined with a contemporary sophistication. She strives to create chic and effortless clothing for the modern woman – always on the go and is not afraid to make her presence felt. She takes pride in her meticulous attention to detail; fine craftsmanship is apparent in every garment she creates. She embraces her keen understanding of the business world, creating designs that are both marketable and affordable for all types of women.

Honors/Awards:  Her most recognized achievement is being chosen to represent the United Sates in the International Fur Remix Competition held in Milan, Italy. The competition, sponsored by the International Fur Trade Federation, provided her the opportunity to work with leaders in the fur industry like Dennis Basso and The North American Fur Auction (NAFA). She was later personally invited by NAFA to visit the company’s head quarter in Toronto, Canada, where she met with the executives of NAFA and received hands on training on designing with fur and luxury apparel. Kim later received the Best of Show Grand Prize at the prestigious Fashion Group International’s Competition against students across 44 universities from the US. The prize – an internship in France – allowed her to study Parisian haute couture with the renowned Paris American Academy.

What does it mean to go Against The Grain“’Expect the unexpected, be the unexpected.’” It means to conquer your dreams and be prepared to make the best of what life throws at you, and furthermore, to be the extraordinary and inspiration for change in the world.”

“It is an honor for me to be chosen to return to FFAP as a presenting designer. I am very grateful to have been with ATG since the very first FFAP. It has been a long and memorable journey. Watching FFAP grow and transform into what it is now has been a surreal experience. In the very first FFAP, I was merely seventeen – young and innocent. The experience was a raw expression of my youthful creativity and it has opened my eyes to many possibilities for my career. It allowed me an invaluable experience and opportunities to network with professionals that I still have close bonds with until this day.

Now, as a graduate and professional, my design aesthetics has matured. My time spent studying fashion and business has transformed me into a designer and entrepreneur that I am today. I design for the modern day woman with an eclectic style, a mixture of bold and elegance combined with a contemporary sophistication. I embrace my understanding of the business world, creating designs that are both marketable and affordable for all types of women.

I hope my continued participation with ATG will allow me exposure and support for my budding career. It makes me feel great to be a part of such a great cause and use my talent to benefit the community as a whole.”

ffap-pr-becky-hollands2BECKY HOLLANDS

Though born in the United States, Becky Hollands was brought back to Hong Kong as an infant and grew up in the then British Colony. Her mother of Chinese descent and father of British descent have both been very influential in her life. Becky’s aesthetic focuses on finding balance in extreme detail and free form drapery just like finding balance in her eastern and western bi-cultural upbringing. Becky concentrates on detailed techniques with contemporary elements in the goal of giving her designs a note of “effortlessness.”

Becky and her family moved back to the United States and resided in Houston, TX where she finished her primary and secondary school education. She had always grown up wearing uniforms both in Hong Kong and Houston, and her fascination with fashion grew to styling outfits for “free dress” days, flipping though pages of magazines and borrowing pieces from her mother’s closet.

Becky received her Bachelor of Science degree in Apparel Design and Manufacturing and minors in Art, Portuguese, and Mandarin from Texas Tech University. After being in the Merchandising/Sales world for the past two years, Becky, at age 28, is ready to embark for dream of developing her brand.

Design inspiration: Her inspiration comes from her family, different cultures, architecture and her surroundings. Her designs represent elegance and effortlessness in a contemporary and versatile way. Utilization of form and movement are prevalent in her work.

Honors/Awards: She was greatly involved as Representative in Dean’s Leadership Council, Fashion Group International competitions and received the Glenna Goodacre Scholarship for Creativity.

What does it mean to go Against The Grain:  “Having an indomitable spirit. I have learned having an indomitable spirit in everything I do impels me to take action whether it may be a lifelong dream, my outlook on things, or the perseverance I endure through my everyday challenges. Increasing this indomitable spirit that that has compelled me to trust my instincts, believe in myself, do the best I can in anything I pursue and continue in the path and passions I have chosen.”

“I am so honored ATG has extended this opportunity for me to present at FFAP.  I hope to represent my community, inspire others through my work, and support the arts and raise awareness while representing ATG.”

ffap-pr-danh-taDANH TA

Danh Ta is a 29 year-old Vietnamese designer born in Thailand to a tailor & painter. His family immigrated to the United States & settled in Oklahoma. Being raised by parents compelled to use their artistic talents to make ends meet, the importance of creativity in life wash instilled in him at an early age.

Upon graduating high school, Danh enrolled in the fashion program at the Art Institute of Dallas in 2003. During his studies, his existing love for art & fashion flourished. He cultivated his talent for re-conceptualizing the dress and debuted his first collection for Fall/Winter 2008.

Throughout his fashion journey, from local fashion shows & now with his debut of his Spring/Summer 2014 RTW collection at San Diego Fashion Week this Fall, his designs have become recognized for their bold contemporary detailing. The Danh Ta collection has become the epitome of sensuous & chic designs, which are elegantly constructed for the modern day woman that can take her from day to night.

Design inspiration: Sensuous, chic aesthetics, custom sewn by hand, attention to detail inspired by minimalism/simplicity

What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “It means everything; it’s the ability and will to do anything.”

“To be chosen again for this year’s FFAP makes me a veteran.  I’m honored to showcase my latest Spring/Summer 2014 RTW collection, inspired by Elizabeth Taylor’s movie Cleopatra.  I hope to spread my brand vision in Dallas, Oklahoma City, San Diego and Los Angeles.”

ffap-pr-cac-lamCAC LAM | CAC DEMODE

Cac Lam is the 26  year-old Vietnamese designer and seamstress behind Cac Demode Designs. She is a graduate of The Art Institute of Dallas and interned in Milan, Italy. Cac’s inspiration draws from the mix of Eastern and Western designs. Her design aesthetic combines romanticism, fashion forward, and ultimately expresses feminity, individuality and choice. Cac Lam is based in New York City.

Design inspiration: Fashion forward, romanticism, femininity, individuality, Eastern and Western designs

What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Believing in your ideas, creations and defending them to the end; even if they are contrary to society’s expectations. I believe going against the norm introduces hardships that need to be overcome. One could gain from the experiences and challenging the standard way for creating new paths. It motivates others to really think about the situations and what they believe in, not just take sides based on the popularity of opinions or ideas; making our world more colorful and full of modern inventions.”

“I am very honored to be chosen to showcase once again this year in Fashion For Passion. I had an amazing time in these past years at the event. I am very excited to have another opportunity to help raise money for the Vietnamese orphanage. This year I am hoping to raise more than what we had achieved last year.”

ffap-pr-hanh-dangHANH DANG | LUCY DANG

Hanh Dang, the a 30 year-old Vietnamese designer behind label Lucy Dang, is based in Dallas has received much esteem since launching in 2011. Her passion and skills were cultivated at the University of North Texas’ College of Visual Arts and Design, where she earned a BFA in Fashion Design. During her time in New York City, she worked with renowned brands such as Nicole Miller, Rebecca Taylor, Kai Kuhne and Dillard’s Inc. Lucy was particularly inspired by Rebecca Taylor and her business partner Elizabeth Bugdaycay because of their success in fashion. She and her own business partner, Blanca Renteria, aspires to be like them.

Design inspiration: Lucy Dang’s designs are inspired by growing up in the South, and the idea of reverie to another era. Her girly, wistful and elegant designs reflect her own lifestyle.

Honors/Awards: Winner of 2013 Texas Next Top Designer and Southern Living Magazine’s “New Southern Icon”

What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Stepping back from what is easy.  Success is not easy. Giving to others and sacrificing your time, energy and money is not easy. All the good that was ever achieved in this world was won, by going against the grain.”

“This year will be my third time showing at Fashion for a Passion and I am hoping that we break all fundraising records again.  Personally I am beyond thrilled and deeply honored that I can be a part of this amazing charity that does so much good.”

ffap-pr-jerry-matthewsJERRY MATTHEWS | NINE MUSES

Jerry Matthews is a 22 yr old (23 in August) Filipino/Caucasian(Polish) creative director/ designer of a Dallas-based women’s luxury label Nine Muses. Jerry attended the Art Institute of Dallas. His clean and sophisticated aesthetic draws from his inspiration in music and in strong women in history and even in fiction.

Design inspiration: Clean, simple, sophisticated, tailored, women’s luxury clothing that’s progressive and edgy. Each season, the collection is inspired by nine muses. For the Nine Muses Fall 2013 collection, the muses included Lana Del Rey, Brigitte Bardot, Earth Kitt, Bonnie Parker, Jessica Rabbit, Catwoman, etc. “My inspiration in life is constantly changing. I am a combined effort of everybody/everything I’ve ever known.”

Honors/Awards: First Place in the 2008 Art Institute of Dallas’ “National Fashion Design Scholarship Competition” and “Outstanding Graduate in Fashion Design” in March of 2012

What does it mean to go Against The Grain: “Pursuing something that you truly feel passionate about despite it being out of the ordinary or what’s expected of you. I think that the title is perfect for this charity because everyone involved is so passionate about this cause, and it’s awesome to see that and to be apart of it.”

“It really means a lot to be chosen. I remember attending one of the first FFAP events as a student, and I really wanted to one day be apart of it, and now I am. It is my second year now, and it is by far my favorite event in Dallas, because everyone is so passionate and lovely. The event is always so spectacular and everyone is so supportive. I can’t wait to see how ATG makes it even bigger and better this year. Also, it’s so great to do something I love, while giving back to an amazing cause.”

This year’s show will be emceed by two of Dallas’ most talented and beautiful public figures — LeeAnne Locken, an actress/spokesperson and regular fashionista on the social scene. She will be joined by Elizabeth Dinh, a reporter for KTVT CBS 11, former Miss Asian American Texas and a Board member of Against The Grain Productions.

LeeAnne Locken
LeeAnne Locken
Elizabeth Dinh
Elizabeth Dinh

Event tickets range from $50 for General Admission, $75-$100 for VIP/Reserved and will go on sale in September. Visit for more information.  Sponsorship opportunities are available by emailing

Watch the 2012 Fashion for a Passion Highlight video:

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to hosting outreach events, it also awards an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit or


Dallas Morning News: Asian pioneers’ stories worth sharing

l to r, Dat Nguyen, Karin Oen, Kent Takano, Ha Mai, Lily Jang, Richard Jung and Tanya Pintoat the Groundbreakers Speak event at the Crow Collection.
l to r, Dat Nguyen, Karin Oen, Kent Takano, Ha Mai, Lily Jang, Richard Jung and Tanya Pintoat the Groundbreakers Speak event at the Crow Collection.



Deborah Fleck

Published: 15 May 2013 11:12 PM

Updated: 16 May 2013 11:25 AM


Dat Nguyen was often told he was too small to play football. Yet he was the first Vietnamese-American in the NFL. He was drafted by the Cowboys and said he couldn’t believe he was playing with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.

“There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big,” said the ESPN sportscaster. “But you have to put time and effort in order to gain an edge. It’s all about attitude.”

Nguyen was one of seven panelists who shared their journeys at Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation With Asian American Movers and Shakers. Saturday’s event was sponsored by Against The Grain Productions and held at the Crow Collection in Dallas. Tammy Nguyen Lee, founder of ATG, moderated the discussion.

Kent Takano, a vice president for HGTV and DIY Network, said he never expected to watch television for a living. In an acting class, he met someone in television who helped him land an internship. Takano’s been in television ever since.

Karin Oen, director of education at the Crow Collection, is passionate about building community through art institutions. UT Arlington graduate Ha Mai carved a path from design studio work to Fur Face Boy, his independent apparel line. Lily Jang said she loves what she does as a television journalist in Houston. Lawyer, advocate and politician Richard Jung joked that he wanted to be Nguyen, but admitted he found his calling in immigration law and helping others.

Tanya Pinto left a large advertising agency to start Baal Dan Charities, a nonprofit helping children around the world. She also runs her own firm, Shakti Consulting.

Nguyen Lee said each of the panelists “put fear aside to follow their passion.” This is her second Groundbreakers event, which she holds in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Visit

Asia World Media: Asian Celebrity Groundbreakers Speak 2013, Featuring Dat Nguyen, Kent Takano, Lily Jang And More

Asian Celebrity Groundbreakers Speak 2013, Featuring Dat Nguyen, Kent Takano, Lily Jang And More

By Asia World Media

Left to Right: Kent Takano, Tanya Pinto, Karin Oen, Dat Nguyen, Tammy Nguyen Lee, Lily Jang, Ha Mai, Richard Jung

In honor of Asian American Heritage Month, Tammy Nguyen Lee of Against The Grain Productions (ATG) and Amy Lewis Hofland of the Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum partnered up to host the 2nd Annual Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Movers and Shakers in Dallas, TX. The family-friendly event brought together an amazing and diverse panel of Asian American professionals and celebrities, including Dat Nguyen (ESPN Radio Host & Former NFL/Dallas Cowboy Linebacker), Kent Takano (Executive Producer of Branded Entertainment for HGTV), Richard Jung (Attorney/Advocate/Politician), Tanya Pinto (Founder of Baal Dan Charity), Karin Oen (Director of Education at the Crow Collection of Asian Art), Ha Mai (Founder/CEO of Fur Face Boy) and Lily Jang (TV Host and News Anchor at KHOU). Each speaker has a unique experience to share his/her inspiring, personal and success story.

Over 100 guests crowded into the Crow’s Bronze Circle Room surrounded by exquisite works of art from China, Japan, and India. While enjoying champagne and dessert, guests have the special opportunity to engage with Asian American movers and shakers on important issues affecting the Asian American community.

“Being a groundbreaker has to do with pushing asides fears and embracing new challenges, ” said Richard Jung, managing partner of Jung Ko, PLLC. A passionate advocate for the Asian American community, Richard Jung believed, “As Asian Americans, we must overcome the cultural inhibitions about standing out and standing our ground. Our elders, our children, our communities need leaders who willing to stand out and stand up for their interests.”

Elsewhere Dat Nguyen’s speech at NFL and Dallas Cowboy’s Day was pretty legendary, giving the other amazing speech a run for its money. An inspiration to many Asian NFL enthusiast, Dat Nguyen is the first Vietnamese American to play in the NFL as a Dallas Cowboy linebacker during the late 1990s. After a successful career in the NFL, Dat Nguyen is currently with Sports talk Radio at ESPN San Antonio. Dat Nguyen articulate, “I would like [for you] to walk away from the event knowing don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but you have to put time and effort in order to gain an edge. It’s all about attitude!”

“Everyone can be a groundbreaker – they simply have to figure out what their unique talent is and then follow that passion to create something, … Then watch the magic unfold, ” said Tanya Pinto, Founder of Baal Dan Charity.








2012 Fashion for a Passion Sets New Organization Records

DALLAS, TX – Non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions hosted its 4th Fashion for a Passion (FFAP) charity event on Saturday, Oct. 13th at The Dallas Contemporary Museum in the Dallas Design District. The show set a remarkable new organization record, with nearly 400 guests in attendance who helped to raise nearly $30,000 net, 100% of which will go toward for ATG’s supported orphanages in Asia, scholarship fund and year-round outreach programs. From FFAP veterans to first time guests, Dallas united for a very worthy cause.

Presenting Designers (left to right): Sophia Wu of Leprosy, Jerry Matthews, Joanne Hong of JOLYNN, Danh Ta, Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, Lizzi Cook of Lizzi London, Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh
Photo © Chi Tran


The sold-out venue. Photo © Chi Tran

Upon entering the Dallas Contemporary, which was appropriately decked out in the audacious fashion photography of Inez & Vinoodh, guests got to enjoy the stylish ambiance set by Lumiere Lighting & Drapery and tunes by DJs Super T and Prada G, tasty food by DC’s Catering, cocktails by Ben E Keith and dessert by Yogurtland. Hung from the rafters with red rope hangers were the seven designer’s t-shirt design pieces. The work of six Exhibiting Artists Fur Face Boy, Ann He, Anh-Thuy Nguyen, Tam Nguyen, ATG Artistic Scholarship finalist Melissa Woodbridge and ATG Artistic Scholarship winner Thoa Nguyen work were displayed, flanking tables of silent auction packages. Gorgeous models dressed in auction looks accompanied designers to mingle amongst the crowd. Pre-show musical guest performers were from ATG’s community partner Kollaboration Dallas and included Peter P & Robbie G, iCare and The Plinth. As guests took their seats, President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee and Community Outreach Director Jared Rehberg honored the two 2012 Artistic Scholarship winners Thoa Nguyen and Britt Espinosa. Espinosa’s Washington-based band, The Exchange, got the crowd riled up with a 10-minute musical set before the runway show started. The evening was emceed by actress/model LeeAnne Locken and entrepreneur Sam Liu, who made a hilarious appearance as Psy. Guests were kept on the edge of their seats with a stunning runway show with models by Campbell-Wagner and Page Parkes and live auction from seven Presenting Designers, including Lizzi Cook of Lizzi London, Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh, Jerry Matthews, Danh Ta and NYC based designers Joanne Hong of JOLYNN and textile designer Sophia Wu of Leprosy.

Photo © Chi Tran

Said President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee, “Going into our fourth year, we had a lot of high expectations on how to improve the show and the event for our guests. This night was an accumulation of so much work from a very hard working volunteer team, months of planning and coordination. It has been truly a blessing to see everyone come together to break records and donate so much back to our cause. It is a testament that our vision is being seen and shared by all.”

Joanne Hong of JOLYNN’s T-shirt Design Photo © David Loi

Programming/Events Chair Kim Nguyen helped to spearhead the organization of the occasion to a complete victory. “Words can’t explain how proud I am of this year’s 2012 FFAP, and it is an honor to be part of such a passionate organization with a great cause,” Nguyen said. “This was my first year planning and attending FFAP and although it was super stressful at times, it was all well worth it in the end to see it executed so wonderfully in addition to how much money we raised for the orphanages and scholarship. Next year will be even bigger and better!”

Director of Fundraising Patrick Su said, “FFAP continues to improve every year. I am very excited to be a part of such a passionate organization that dedicates their time to helping those in need. I am looking forward to the continued growth of the organization.” Su was a past guest to the well-known charity event, and this was also his first year to help organize it as a Board member.

Dress by Joanne Hong of JOLYNN
Photo © Chi Tran

Designer Joanne Hong of JOLYNN added a new twist to Fashion for a Passion, presenting the very first collection to include a children’s line, and the little darlings stole the show. “Being part of Fashion for a Passion was such a great experience. I loved meeting the ATG team as well as the other designers and artists,” Hong said. “It was an amazing event that really exceeded my expectations. Sharing my love of fashion while helping others is what following my passion is all about. I couldn’t have asked for a more organized and successful show.”

Jerry Matthew’s T-shirt Design Photo © David Loi

First-time presenting designer and recent Art Institute graduate Jerry Matthews said, “It felt so wonderful doing something that I really love while being able to give back to a great cause at the same time,” Matthews said. “It was my first year presenting a collection for this show, and I am so grateful for the positive response and support. I will definitely remember this for the rest of my life. It was such an amazing life experience and I cannot wait to see what other great accomplishments Against The Grain achieves in the coming future. Also, I look forward to supporting this cause again!”

Thoa Nguyen, one of the 2012 Artistic Scholarship winners and freshman Radio-Television-Film major at the University of Texas at Austin, experienced her first fashion show event and got a chance to exhibit her own art work. “I was honored to have been a part of [the event]. It was incredible to be around so many inspiring artists coming from so many different perspectives and meet the amazing people who make ATG Productions what it is,” Nguyen said.

The night’s top bids went to Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh for her beautiful red Milace Dress, whose line was recently announced to be carried in Saks Fifth Avenue and Sue Gragg Precious Jewels, a Highland Park based custom jewelry designer.

Dress by Nha Khanh
Photo © David Loi


Photo © Chi Tran







To see photos from the evening’s event, please visit the ATG Flickr site.

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit or

ATG board, creative team, and volunteers.
Photo © Christopher Rich Pics


The Dallas Morning News: Musical Groups

Written by: Deborah Fleck

Musical groups

Last month, Kollaboration Dallas showcased the area’s top Asian-American talent. Three groups that performed at the event shared their music at Saturday’s Fashion for a Passion event, a benefit for Against the Grain Productions. First up were Peter P. and Robbie G., also known as Peter Phoutthavong and Robbie Guanlao. They were followed by iCare, whose members are Aria Cundick, Dmitri Ukraintsev and Robin Ahmadi. The third group to perform was The Plinth, which is made up of UT-Dallas students Nate Bleker, Lakshman Manjunath, Usama Siddiquee and Dennis Roy.

A fourth band, called The Exchange from Silverdale, Wash., also performed. Member Britt Espinsosa received a scholarship from Against the Grain Productions. The sold-out fundraiser drew about 300 guests and had more than 100 volunteers helping out.

Asia World Media: Fashion Worthy of Its Cause

Courtesy of, Photos by Calvin Tran

As the sun set over DFW high risers on a Saturday night, cars pulled-up to the Dallas Contemporary Museum for the 4th Annual Fashion for a Passion charity event, a fundraiser that brings together the talents of emerging Asian American fashion designers.
Raising money for orphanage, guests decked themselves in their best attire and lounged with shiny credit card ready to bid on one of a kind designer dresses. While guests munched on hors d’oeuvres, had their thirst quenched with cocktails and shopped on silent auction goods, models strutted the floor in styles from upcoming designer’s creations.
In a show that was well worthy of its cause, the 2012 ATG Fashion for a Passion is made up of an eclectic mix of designers with diverse styles, influences, educational backgrounds and Asian ethnicity. This year’s roster of talent includes Lizzi Cook of Lizzi London, Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, Jerry Matthews, Danh Ta, NYC based designers Joanne Hong of JOLYNN, textile designer Sophia Wu of Leprosy, and FFAP regular Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh.

DFW Style Daily: Designers Unite at Against The Grain’s 2012 ‘Fashion for a Passion’

Written by: Heather Lettieri

On Saturday, October 13th, Against The Grain Productions (ATG) held its annual Fashion For A Passion fundraiser. For this completely sold-out event, a very stylish crowd packed the Dallas Contemporary in support of the organization’s fourth showcase.

A leader in representing, promoting, and providing educational opportunities for the Asian American community, ATG is a Dallas-based non-profit group. Every dollar raised by ATG funds outreach programs and scholarships, or goes to assisting orphanages in Asia. Fashion For A Passion is an all-volunteer effort.

The evening included fabulous food and cocktails, live music, a designer t-shirt raffle, and a silent art auction, but the real show-stoppers of the night were seen on the runway. Hosts LeeAnne Locken and Sam Liu presented a fashion show and live auction of seven designers, including a DFW Style Daily designer crush, Nha Khanh. Arriving fashionably early, we caught up with all of the designers, as well as Ms. Locken, for a little Q&A before the show.

LeeAnne Locken

DFW Style Daily: You’ve volunteered to host this event three years running. How did you get involved with ATG, and what do you love about the organization?

LL: “What I love about ATG is the fact that Tammy Nguyen Lee, who is such an amazing woman and a good friend of mine, decided she was going to pick up the cause and do something, and created this foundation all on her own.”

Why do you think it’s important to link charity and fashion?

“Oh my God, because fashion is universal. Fashion transcends all generations, languages, and ethnicities, and creates a melding of everyone. It allows us to share not only different opinions but similar ones, and it brings us together.”

What is your favorite element of fall fashion?

“Tights and miniskirts! What I really love about fall fashion, though, is the challenge of taking something that’s completely covered and making it look elegant and sexy at the same time.”

Joanne Hong of JOLYNN (designs pictured above)

Who is the woman you design for?

“The woman I design for is a confident, sophisticated, young professional. I like to create a lot of day-to-night looks that can transition from work to an evening or charity event.”

Describe your collection in three words.

“Sweet. Charming. Feminine.”

What was the last dream you had?

“Actually, I haven’t been sleeping well! So, my last dream-come-true would honestly be tonight and being here with my parents. Because of work and travel, this is the first event they can both be at to support me, and it’s an amazing feeling!”

Jerry Matthews (designs pictured above)

Who is the woman you design for?

“She’s a strong, confident woman who can be daring with her fashion sense. She’s a little edgy, but still feminine.”

Describe your collection in three words.

“Simple. Clean. Daring.”

What was the last dream you had?

“Oh my gosh, it was a really funny one! I was watching television prior, and the dream basically mimicked what happened. In it, my ex-partner told me he was dating one of my old art teachers. It was really confusing — it was a nightmare, actually.”

Lizzi Cook of Lizzi London (designs pictured above)

Who is the woman you design for?

“Someone who is elegant, proud of who they are, and willing to try something new. As a designer, I like to accentuate a woman’s figure to bring out her personality.”

Describe your collection in three words.

“Intricate, flowy, and a little edgy.”

What was the last dream you had?

“I was watching YouTube, and I had a dream that I was on a date with my husband at Starbucks. Ellen DeGeneres showed up to prank me and I chased her down laughing. Yeah, I chased down Ellen.”

Danh Ta (designs pictured above)

Who is the woman you design for?

“She’s definitely bold, very confident, and proud of being a woman.”

Describe your collection in three words.

“Luscious. Floral. Aquatic life.”

What was the last dream you had?

“It was actually two nights ago! I was in prison for a crime that I never committed. I don’t recall what [it was], I only remember being in trouble for no reason, and the relief I felt when I woke up.”

Sophia Wu of Leprosy (designs pictured above)

Who is the woman you design for?

“Boyish. I like to express my femininity in a masculine way.”

Describe your collection in three words.

“Experimental. Masculine. …How about just two words?”

What was the last dream you had?

“It was on the flight here from New York, and I dreamed that my hotel looked exactly like my apartment. Really my studio is beat-up and doesn’t look like The Lumen at all.”

Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang (designs pictured above)

Who is the woman you design for?

“We design for the girly-girl and any girl can be a girly-girl at any age.”

Describe your collection in three words.

“Anna Karenina dates a Kennedy.”

What was the last dream you had?

“That I won Texas Next Top Designer. It honestly was. I’m a contestant this year, so hopefully it really happens!”

Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh (designs pictured above)

Who is the woman you design for?

“She is the woman with confidence. She knows exactly what she wants, but is still very playful with fashion.”

Describe your collection in three words.

“Lacey, flowy and feminine.”

What was the last dream you had?

“Oh my god, what was the last dream I remember? I haven’t really been sleeping, so I haven’t been dreaming. But, I remember my last dream-come-true, and that was learning that I will be honored by Fashion Group International of Dallas next month with the Rising Star Award in fashion. I daydream a lot, but this one came true!”

All photos, credit Heather Lettieri for DFW Style Daily. For more information on ATG, visit


D Magazine Style Sheet: An Enchanted Affair

Thank you so much again to Against The Grain for the 4th annual Fashion for a Passion showcasing Asian American designers. It was an evening filled with vibrant colors, great ambition, and incredibly inspiring stories.

La Mode Dallas – Fashion for a Passion: Well-Seasoned

Written by: Jackelyn Vorce

Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, Lizzi Cook of Lizzi London, Khanh of Nha Khanh and emcess LeeAnne Locken and Sam Liu

October 13th marked the fourth annual Against the Grain’s Fashion for a Passion event. It was created with the purpose of bringing together emerging Asian American artists, fashion designers and musicians to raise awareness for Asian American culture and arts. The celebration was held at the renowned Dallas Contemporary where its current Inez & Vinoodh photography exhibit served as the perfect backdrop for the lively event. From start to finish, the evening was designed to keep guests interested and entertained. Informal models, donning upcoming designs from the fashion show, mingled throughout the space, offering more information about the designs and designers they were wearing. Prior to the fashion show, guests enjoyed savory bites and cocktails by DC’s Catering, along with a Yogurtland station filled with an assortment of its most popular flavors and toppings. There was a generous variety of silent auction items to meet anyone’s interests, along with a truly unique opportunity to choose from and bid on an ATG t-shirt given to each presenting designer one month prior to the event to recreate into a masterpiece of his or her own styling.

Exhibiting artists included Fur Face Boy, Ann He, Anh- Thuy Nguyen, Tam Nguyen, Thoa Nguyen, and Melissa Woodbridge. Musical entertainers Peter P & Robbie G, iCare and The Plinth gathered guests toward the stage before the runway show. As everyone took their seats, the last band, The Exchange, had event-goers clapping and singing along, anxiously awaiting the start of the show. Introducing and narrating the catwalk was Dallas’ own LeeAnne Locken and Sam Liu. Presenting designers included Lizzi Cook of Lizzi London, Hanh Dang of Lucy Dang, Khanh Nguyen of Nha Khanh, Jerry Matthews, Danh Ta and NYC-based designers Joanne Hong of JOLYNN, and textile designer Sophia Wu of Leprosy. After seeing each designer’s creative lines, a live auction was held over one of each designer’s donated pieces, and things quickly turned competitive with bids getting as high as $1,000 for a single dress. All proceeds from Fashion for a Passion go toward benefitting Against the Grain Production’s supported orphanage outreach programs and ATG’s scholarship funds. After such a well-organized and fulfilling night, it’s hard to believe this event is only four years-old.

Photos courtesy of La Mode Dallas, Dallas Does

Musicians Ready to Rock the Runway of 2012 Fashion for a Passion

DALLAS, TX – Dallas non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions’ much-awaited Fashion for a Passion charity event not only combines emerging fashion and art, but also brings together live musical entertainers to set the stage up for an unforgettable entertainment experience. The 4th annual event, which will be hosted at the Dallas Contemporary on Saturday, October 13th from 6:30 PM – 10:00 PM, will feature four musical entertainment acts to kick off the evening’s celebration of Asian American talent.

Three of this year’s performers were selected from ATG’s community partner, Kollaboration Dallas, and include Peter P & Robbie G, iCare and The Plinth. The fourth and final performer will be The Exchange, the band of ATG’s 2012 Artistic Scholarship winner Britt Espinosa. Each musical act includes young entertainers who have followed their path to go against the grain.

Peter P & Robbie G

Peter P & Robbie G both started out their musical career as solo artists and now have been performing together for two years and counting. An elaborate description of their music is that it’s “high energy Dance/Pop with an array of slow melodic love songs,” and they perform with charismatic personalities. Said the duo, “What [does] our music means to us – Music is us, and we are music. We create music because we love doing it. We do it to inspire, to relate and to make people feel good. Our performance means a lot, because we always want to put on a good show, and we always strive to do better than our last. With our high energy songs, we hope the crowd will have a good time with us. Maybe even get up and start dancing – but if not, we will settle for smiles on faces and nodding of heads.”

The Plinth

Music is known to be shown on a variety of levels, and every member of The Plinth brings something unique to the table. The Plinth’s musical talents create something unique that truly characterizes their musical styles. Audiences will love their innovative and fun use of sound and beats. The band’s known multi-talented beatboxer Usama Siddiquee says, “Funk. Jazz. Hip Hop. Soul. It’s what we’re all made of.”

The Exchange

ATG is again lucky enough to have both of the 2012 Artistic Scholarship winners present at FFAP. Washington state native, Britt Espinosa, and his band, The Exchange, will be FFAP’s final musical act.  Espinosa, along with other scholarship winner and exhibiting artist, Thoa Nguyen, will be recognized before The Exchange performs for the audience. Espinosa started the band in 2010, and over the years, the group has performed at almost one hundred events, playing shows, youth camps and conferences through the West Coast. Espinosa realized through these experiences how much he enjoyed leading young musicians on a musical team and was challenged by the business aspects of leading a band/team. The Exchange’s energetic, live show with guitar swings, jumping and unbridled energy creates an atmosphere where everyone wants to join in. Bridging the gap between the stage and audience, The Exchange quickly created a community that readily absorbs their optimistic music. Said Espinosa, “The Exchange is very excited to be a part of FFAP this year. It is a great honor to play at an event that holds so much meaning and does so much good! We love music! We love to play it, perform it, sing it. Wherever we play, our hope is that our love is seen and that the audience experiences some of that love as well.”

Tickets to Fashion for a Passion range from $50 to $100 and are on sale exclusively at the FFAP Event Page.  For more press/media information on the event, please contact

ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit or